Centralising sharable patient information across healthcare providers

My Topol fellowship problem / project:

Around 3 million general anaesthetics are given in the UK each year. When you have a general anaesthetic your anaesthetist inserts a device into your throat to ensure oxygen enters the body whilst you are asleep. This process is termed airway management. In the vast majority of cases this process is uncomplicated. However, if this process becomes difficult there can be serious life-threatening consequences. This is described as an airway emergency. It is vital that for future anaesthetics any previous problems with airway management are communicated. The Difficult Airway Society maintain a standalone database of patients who have had difficult airway management and provide patients with an airway alert card to carry.

During my Topol fellowship, I will work with the Difficult Airway Society to build a system which can automatically communicate airway safety alerts into a variety of hospital electronic patient records. This will likely require incorporating open standards for data collection on airway management. I also want to be able to provide a digital airway alert card to patients which they can store securely on their electronic device and use to share data with healthcare providers.

I am a specialist registrar in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine in my final year of training. I currently work at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. As an often- frustrated user of NHS IT systems, I have developed a passion for and commitment to shaping a better future for NHS IT.

In my early postgraduate training, I started attending NHS Hackday events. At these Hackdays, frontline NHS staff and professional programmers would spend a weekend together sharing clinical problems and creating technical solutions. I was amazed by what we could achieve in just one weekend, by focusing on producing a minimal viable product and agile design principles. This encouraged me to learn skills such as basic coding and website design, and equipped me with the knowledge and language to bridge the communication divide between clinicians and developers.

I have remained inspired by these experiences and I am a strong proponent of improving digital literacy amongst health care practitioners to improve patient outcomes.